Iran renews restrictions as fifth wave feared

05 July 2021
President Hassan Rouhani has warned of the delta variant's spread as the Mena tally of Covid-19 cases crosses 9.8 million

The number of Covid-19 cases in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region crossed 9,834,462 on 5 July, according to Worldometers data collated by MEED.

Countries in the GCC account for 23 per cent (2,263,242) of all regional cases, while Iran’s 3,270,843 infections account for 33.3 per cent of the Mena case tally.

Since 28 June, 238,863 new cases have been reported in the 17 Mena countries tracked by MEED.

The week-on-week tally is higher than the 218,037 new cases recorded in the week following 21 June.

Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia’s Interior Ministry on 3 July suspended flights to the UAE, Ethiopia and Vietnam, with citizens and residents returning from these countries required to quarantine for 14 days. Earlier this week, the ministry also confirmed residents who refuse to take Covid-19 vaccines will not be penalised. Security spokesman for the ministry, Talal bin Abdul Mohsen al-Shalhoub, reiterated that only vaccinated people will be allowed to enter shopping malls from 1 August.

The United Arab Emirates has approved the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine for emergency use, making it the fifth vaccine to receive such approval in the country. Around 73.8 per cent of the UAE's population has received one vaccine dose while 63.7 per cent of the population is fully vaccinated, the UAE’s Health Ministry said on 3 July. More than 15.5 million doses of coronavirus vaccine have been administered in the UAE since December. 

Talks to establish a manufacturing hub for the Russian Sputnik-V vaccine in Bahrain are advancing between both countries, according to media reports. Bahrain plans to distribute the jab in the Mena region and signed a preliminary agreement for Sputnik-V’s local manufacturing in June.

On 1 July, Kuwait announced plans to reopen its land and sea borders to vaccinated citizens for 12 hours every day between noon and midnight. The decision came after the cabinet allowed vaccinated citizens, their non-Kuwaiti first-degree relatives and domestic workers to travel through its land and sea borders. Plans are to fully reopen ports, including for expatriates, from 1 August.

Muscat has expanded the nationwide vaccination programme by adding individuals aged 18 years and above to the list of eligible candidates for the jab. Individuals aged over 45 were previously considered eligible for the vaccine, alongside special categories such as frontline workers and pregnant women.

Restrictions have been reintroduced in Iran after outgoing President Hassan Rouhani warned of an impending fifth wave of Covid-19 in the country earlier this week. Non-essential businesses in 275 cities, including the capital of Tehran, have been closed, and public parks, restaurants, beauty salons, malls and bookstores have been shut down as well. According to an AP report, the government is also imposing a travel ban between cities with high infection rates.

Rouhani said on 3 July the delta variant of the coronavirus, first detected in India, was rapidly spreading in Iran.

“There are concerns that we go into the direction of a fifth wave. In southern provinces we should apply more treatment since the delta variant has infiltrated there.”

The Iranian Health Ministry last week Iran's authorised the emergency use of the second domestic vaccine against Covid-19. Third phase clinical trials for the vaccine developed by Iran's Pasteur Institute have been carried out, Health Minister Saeed Namaki said.

Health Ministry Hala Zayed announced last week Egypt had produced the first 300,000 doses of Chinese company Sinovac’s vaccine through Egyptian Holding Company for Biological Products and Vaccines (Vacsera). From August, 10-15 million made-in-Egypt doses of Sinovac will be made available each month to vaccinate 40 million citizens by end-2021. Egypt’s initial deal with Sinovac envisioned the production of 40 million doses annually, but the figure has been raised to 80 million, Zayed reportedly said last week.

Baghdad is expanding its vaccination drive and has launched programmes in government institutions, with Riyadh Abdul-Amir, head of the ministry's Public Health Department, telling state media the plan had commenced in the Al-Karkh area of the capital city. A total of 929,193 doses have been administered in Iraq since its national drug authority approved the emergency use of China's Sinopharm vaccine in January.

Image: Mahyar Motebassem / Unsplash

A MEED Subscription...

Subscribe or upgrade your current package to support your strategic planning with the MENA region’s best source of business information. Proceed to our online shop below to find out more about the features in each package.

Get Notifications